It’s about time I rang Lucy, Barbara thought, having arrived at the hotel. She’s a dear friend. Accepting the extra workload without complaining is a credit to her. I’ll always be indebted to her.
“Hi, Lucy, how are you?”
“I’m fine. Are you alright?”
“I’m at the hotel. I’m about to shower and change into some clean clothes. I thought I’d ring and see how you are? You’re the first person I’ve rung since coming back from New York. I didn’t want to ring from the hospital. I didn’t want people staring at me if I started crying.”
“Why should you care if someone looks at you? You’re the one suffering! As long as you’re okay, that’s the main thing. I tried ringing your cell phone, but it keeps crossing to your answering service.”
“The battery’s flat, so I turned it off. And I know it’s silly to worry about people seeing me cry, but that’s just the way I am.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Thank you, no. JM and I are managing.”
“I apologise for not going to your apartment on Saturday, but I would’ve had to take the children out into the freezing cold. Please believe me, I feel terrible that I didn’t go. In the end it’s probably better the police went.”
“You don’t have to apologise. If you would have gone and the intruder was still there you may have been injured. I understand the predicament you were in with Eugene not being there. I would have done the same.
I’m sorry I put you in that awful situation. I should be thanking you! If you hadn’t had the spare key, it’s possible the police may not have got in. They could have kicked the door open, I suppose. The main thing is Katherine and Sophia are alive.” Barbara burst into tears.
“Everything will be okay, sweetheart.” Lucy decided to change the conversations direction, so began to speak of a patient who was in need of extra attention. She was hoping Barbara would become involved in the new topic and forget her present circumstance, which she did. Although, once their discussion ceased, Barbara again thought of Bruno’s brutality. Trying to comprehend why he would inflict such horrific injuries on other people was unfathomable.
The feeling of coldness woke her, and she instinctively looked toward the window. It was still daylight, but only just. The last thing she remembered before falling asleep was thinking of Bruno. Why did I stupidly believe his lies?
The sight of shadows casting on buildings opposite meant darkness would soon be upon her, and she still had things to achieve. Hurriedly she showered, dressed, and whisked a brush through her hair with the aid of a hairdryer.
The make-up will have to wait, although as she descended in the lift she had second thoughts. She applied some lipstick, quickly, before reaching the lobby.
She was in luck. A deli was directly opposite the hotel. While making the ham, mayo, and rye sandwiches, the woman behind the counter spoke constantly of how she and her husband had emigrated from Italy twenty-five years prior, and of their love for their new country.
The woman’s life story had piqued her interest, being a psychologist, but with daylight being in short commodity, she quickly paid for the sandwiches and took a taxi to the hospital. As she rode on her journey, she thought of the woman. How is it that some people choose to come to a strange land, probably struggle initially, but in their own way become successful? However, others, like Bruno, only bring misery.
As she neared the hospital, she thought, I forgot the other things I had to buy.
JM was grateful for Barbara’s arrival. The pangs of hunger had begun.
She handed him the awaited sandwich. “I’m sorry I’m late. I was speaking to Lucy on the phone . . . then fell asleep. I went out like a light.”
“As long as you’re okay, that’s all I care about. Don’t apologize for being tired . . . the strain is enough to take its toll on anyone.”
“Has anything happened since I’ve been gone?”
He gave her a verbal picture; from the moment of Sophia’s apology, to her inevitable return to her room, and of Katherine’s apparent rebuttal.
Her non-sympathetic response to Sophia’s plea was causing Katherine some concern. Her father’s words were a continual mental resonation.
Doctor Gilmore entered, and after greeting Barbara and JM, he turned his attention to her. “How are you today, Katherine?” His wait was very brief. “Not answering? That’s okay. We may be transferring you to another room in the next couple of days. This room’s for emergency patients only, and because you’re well on the way to recovery we could make use of the room. I want you to think about seeing a staff psychologist. Preferably, before I discharge you. Although, that won’t happen until I’ve removed the sutures.”
She had not given any thought to returning home, but the building she once considered a sanctuary was no more. The feeling of love she cherished, but her mind traversed back to her bedroom, the suffering, and degradation. With the images of her horrors came the silent tears.
Barbara suddenly leaped from her chair, accidently pushing Doctor Gilmore aside.
“What’s wrong darling? Are you in pain? Please, please talk to me!”
Katherine stared at her mother. How do I tell you I don’t want to go home? I want to speak about my feelings, but I can’t.
Doctor Gilmore immediately went to the opposite side of the bed to check the monitor.
“Her heart rate is elevated and so is her blood pressure, but their only slight. There’s nothing too concerning. I’ll ask the nursing staff to keep an eye on them. I’ll instruct she be given a slight boost of morphine if they increase. It will help her relax. She doesn’t appear to be in any pain, so it could be a sign of anxiety. She weaning her from the morphine is on our next agenda. Any pain relief she’s in need of should be orally. Could I see you both in the corridor?”
As they huddled against one wall of the corridor, he said, “I’m sorry about having to talk out here, but I think she’s taking in too much of our conversations. Because she’s refusing to speak she’s finding herself isolated. It’s possible she may have wanted to say something, after I mentioned her going home, but she stopped herself. It may have brought on hypertension. Have either of you mentioned about her going home?”
JM looked to Barbara, and waited for a response.
“No . . . I’m sure I haven’t said anything. Isn’t it a little early?”
“I haven’t either,” JM added. “I only spoke to her after Mrs. K went to see her, when she apologized in writing for what happened. Katherine turned her head away, as though not wanting to acknowledge her grandmother, or accept her apology. I’m not sure that’s correct though. It’s just my interpretation.”
“Can you tell me what you said to her?” Doctor Gilmore asked.
JM repeated, as best he could, his one-sided conversation.
“I’ll come and see her again tomorrow. I can’t give you a definitive time, but I’ll see if I can get the hospital psychologist to attend as well.”
It was only after he retreated down the corridor did Barbara walk back into Katherine’s room alone.
JM sat on the bench, looking down at his hands, pondering their achievements. He then thought of Bruno. I love being a dentist, but some people do not deserve help from other people.
He decided to see how Sophia was faring, but she was asleep. He sat on the chair and faced the window.
With darkness having enveloped the city the hospital lights were ablaze. The interior lights in the opposing buildings illuminated each of their floors, some partially, some fully. His image reflected in the glass.
Sleep has a way of silently encroaching on one’s mind. It wasn’t until he felt a movement on his body did he realise he’d fallen asleep. Placed over him, by a nurse, was a blanket.
With the sun advancing in the sky, and Sophia still dozing, he decided to visit the cafeteria for a coffee, before leaving for his apartment. With a second coffee in hand, he made his way by taxi, to await the locksmith.
“Hi, Rod, how are things at the surgery?” he said, when Rodney Fletcher, his leading dentist answered. Time was still aplenty before the locksmith was scheduled.
“Everything’s okay. How are Katherine and Mrs. K?”
“They’re about as good as could be expected. I’m just ringing to tell you I don’t know when I’ll be returning.”
“Don’t worry on our account . . . we’re all fine here. Do you want me to check on the other surgeries?”
“No, thanks, I’ll ring them now. If you’re in need of a locum, call one.”
“We don’t have the need for one at the moment; we’re coping.”
After they spoke of developments and staff, Rod asked, “What do you want to do about the pro bono booked in?”
The sudden jab of pain to his heart jolted JM. He had forgotten the appointment.
“Do you want me to handle it while you’re away?” Rod was not aware of the new circumstances that had developed between his boss and the patient.
“Okay. Cancel his coming appointment. Just tell him we’ll contact him when we have the available time.”
Ringing the detectives to inform them of the lock changing crossed his mind, but it was only a thought.
Although JM never made comment, the locksmith’s early arrival pleased him. Keeping to an appointment’s time was a strict rule he applied to himself and his patients. The discussion of lock changing was in progress, when JM asked, “I need an alarm system for the front door. Do you install them?”
“Yes, but the parts I don’t carry in stock. I only order what I need.”
“How long does that take?”
“A couple of days.”
“Okay. I need one installed before I move my family back in.”
“Just ring me a few days before and I’ll install it. It won’t take long.”
The locksmith had observed the damaged items lying on the living room floor, but remained silent.
JM, too, was looking at the devastation, but his thoughts were of the news reporting of the break-in. The television stations and morning newspapers had released some details, but they omitted the naming of Katherine was omitted, being a minor. Only Sophia’s name occurred.
With the discussion of the alarm system and locks in progress, the unannounced entrance of two women went unnoticed.